Saturday, November 12, 2011

You've Got To Start Somewhere!

I've been helping out a friend recently who is new to teaching; who is new to special education in particular.  Because of this, I started thinking about all the ways teachers can (but often don't) assist new teachers!

I've had quite a few student teachers come through my classroom.  When you think about it, though, student teaching is often very different than that first year of teaching!  Student teachers often HELP with paperwork, assessments, IEP's and conferences; but, they are never completely responsible for this.  It is still up to the cooperating teacher to make sure things go smoothly, that things are written correctly and that things are done on time.

That first year in the classroom can be just a bit overwhelming!  No longer are you responsible only for the children; but for managing multiple things (paperwork, IEP's, assessments, computer work) with little assistance from others.  This can definitely be overwhelming!  Of course, there are mentors and your teaching team to help when needed.  Unfortunately, many times, new teachers feel that asking for assistance may come across in the wrong way! 

Here are a few things I think all of us, no matter how much teaching experience we have, can do to help those who are newer than ourselves!
  1. Offer time to brainstorm ideas and solutions to problems!  Often simply talking out a stressful or challenging situation can bring clarity and several possible solutions!
  2. Offer to help create things.  New teachers are often overwhelmed with the responsibility and paperwork alone!  Creating simple games, props, picture prompts or assessment tools can be a great help! 
  3. If you have previous knowledge or training in an area that may be helpful; offer to provide a quick overview of how things work!  Often just walking through something can ease the burden!
  4. Share!  Share ideas, Internet resources, assessment tools, other resources etc.  Don't be stingy!  Those things are doing very little good if they are only benefiting one person and a few children!  Look at the big picture!  By sharing these resources, you are making an impact on more children than those in your own classroom!
  5. Continue to ask if help is needed!  Most of us would like to think we don't need any help and have things completely under control...until we don't! 
  6. And always, always remember that you were once there as well!  Remember that we are all learning!  Remember that by teaching and assisting others you can continue learning as well!  And, finally, remember that it is always OK to simply suggest asking someone with more expertise or with training in a specific area!  You don't have to be the go-to person for everything!
For some odd reason, it seems that many teachers feel sharing these resources hurts them in some way!  WE'RE TEACHERS for goodness sake!  People learn from each other!  Be a resource to others!  Try not to fall into the complaining sessions that sometimes happen  (and if you do, just make sure something positive is coming from it)! 

Grab the "How Long is this Hall" Button!

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